Category Archives: AlwaysLearning

#WCTO2013 – WordCamp Toronto 2013

Lots of learning and happy typing at WordCamp Toronto!
Lots of learning and happy typing at WordCamp Toronto!

Another fantastic WordCamp has happened, this time in Toronto, Canada!

Wait, what’s a  WordCamp?

You may be asking, “Meagan, What are these WordCamps you keep talking about?”

A WordCamp is a fun, friendly, accessible, and affordable unconference where one can learn pretty much everything about using WordPress to create websites. From technical support through to marketing advice, and everything in between – if it’s related to the web, you’ll find it at WordCamp!

Each WordCamp is different based on the needs of each city’s community. Check out the Official WordCamp Website for a more detailed explanation and to see a list of the known upcoming WordCamps around the world. And check back often, as WordCamps are always being created!

#WCTO2013

This past weekend I spoke at WordCamp Toronto 2013, aka #WCTO2013. This year it was a 2 day event, jam-packed with great speakers and hands-on workshops. As a result of the ever-growing Toronto WordPress community, Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus became the venue host. And what a lovely location indeed – take a look at how gorgeous and happy this Happiness Bar was:

That's one happy Happiness Bar! #wcto2013

A post shared by Meagan Hanes (@mhanes) on

Happiness Bars are one of my favourite WordCamp features. The sheer Happiness that comes from people finding a solution to a long-standing problem, or having an answer to a question that has bugged them for months, is so very inspiring. Taking a picture of that exact moment is a challenge for even the most skilled photographers, but I encourage you to explore the Flickr pool and see those moments of happiness for yourself!

This year, 4 concurrent tracks were offered for Day One: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Watusi (a grab bag for those hard-to-classify offerings). One is free to attend any session they desire – you do not have to stay in one track all day. In fact, you can learn quite a bit by diving into the deep end and attending a session completely foreign to you.

As is tradition, the Afterparty was filled with engaging discussion, entertaining dancing, and enjoyable company. Did I mention the adorable snacks? They had those too! You know what they say – never leave a WordCamp without at least making an appearance at the Afterparty 😉

The real magic happened on Day Two, a day filled with interactive panels, workshops, and classes of all kinds. As most of you know I’m a big fan of interactive communication, so it was with great pleasure that I joined my fellow WordPress speakers on the Marketing and Blogging panel. Not only was the discussion engaging and entertaining, filled with tips and tricks of all kinds, but many laughs and smiles were shared as well! Following this,  Ruth Maude of Dandelion Web Design and I hosted the Drop In Website Clinic, where audience members submitted their website and received constructive feedback from those in the room. With such great diversity in website designs/purposes/audiences, every participant walked away with ideas and inspiration for taking their own projects to the next level!

Slides, Handouts, Et Cetera

The slides for my talk, “DIY Or Have It Made? Here’s How To Decide!” are available here on Slideshare. This presentation offers an overview of the entire website creation process and lists the many roles and responsibilities involved. Of course, not every site needs every role and responsibility, but it’s a good list to pick from when starting your own project.

Sidenote: the slides mention a handout – it’s a limited-print zine (you know me, I was feeling creative!). Thankfully there are 30+ people with it in their hands, if you really want the handout, find one of those people and ask nicely for a copy! (Hint, try using the #WCTO2013 tag on Twitter.) As a bonus, I guarantee that by doing this, you’ll make a great WordPress friend, quite possibly even an accountabilibuddy 🙂

Sadly, you can’t get a copy of our little WordPress Ukelele Jam. That was a very limited-time performance for those in the room that day… or at least I didn’t record it!

What’s Next?

And with our little community song left playing in my mind, my Ontario WordCamp Tour 2013 draws closer to an end. But fret not, my Pressy friends! Planning for WordCamp Ottawa 2014 is already underway, and I’m pleased to be contributing my skills in bringing it to you next year. Connect with the WordPress Ottawa Group on Facebook to stay in the loop!

I hope to see you there, at many other WordCamps around the world, and online with blog posts and other communications! Remember – while WordCamp might end, the friendships you make and inspiration you gain can live on forever, if you believe and keep the spirit alive 🙂

Social Storms Bring Happy Opportunities

“Technology is best when it brings people together.”

OK, that’s enough with the #Sharknado, right? (Did you see it on Twitter? Go Google it if you haven’t, I’ll wait 🙂

As much as I love mystery and intrigue, this post is a longform, down-to-earth exploration of how a silly little concepts become big ideas, and how this has value in your day-to-day life.

What’s a Social Storm?

Let’s start it off with a plain old definition. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the uncontrollable yet mighty power the internet brings in connecting ideas, opportunities, and people: a social storm.

Social storms shares a lot in common with regular weather storms:

  • They’re unpredictable – we have analytics and radar to help us make good decisions, but the ultimate result is impossible to determine until it happens;
  • They’re exciting – as humans, we simply love observing something new. Look at how big #Sharknado trended!
  • They make an impact – whether positive, negative, or in many cases, curiously ambiguous and hard to measure.

The only real difference? Social Storms happen virtually, through the power of our connectedness, and our belief in the idea at hand.

Whether the rain comes in from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, LinkedIn, email, blog post comments, trackbacks, or favourites, they all say one thing: Someone’s listening, someone cares!

What a great feeling to have 🙂

Sharknado 2 – The Sequeling!

Sorry, but we’re talking about #Sharknado and Rocky Horror Picture Show for another minute. Feel free to skip this section if you’re in the loop!

So what exactly happened? Imagine, if you can, the time when Rocky Horror Picture Show was in theatres. The camp. The culture. The community.  I wasn’t even around at that time, yet I know of this and still hear stories told of midnight singalongs in dress! They may even still show the movie regularly, there’s that much love.

What happened then, happened now, only in a fraction of the time due to our hyperconnections.

From what I saw, people became aware of #Sharknado very shortly before it was made available to them, gratis, on the cable channel SyFy. The mystery and intrigue were too high and the risk was too low to resist exploring.

Of course, gotta love the ironic fact that the prize is a hilariously campy movie which I as of this time have yet to actually see. However here I am, fully versed in #Sharknado lore, taken with the story of the story rather than with the story itself. (And excited for the already-announced sequel!)

One could label #Sharknado as New-Age Marketing or even as a Social Media Marketing Success Story. One could even go as far as to say that it was a beautifully executed Alternate Reality Game with a Free Movie as a prize! As many know I’m not a fan of unnecessary labels, so I don’t feel the need to define it yet, but am enjoying observing the cause and effect results. There’s certainly something social/viral going on!

And they’re not the first. Another hot contender for Amazing Social Media Usage Of The Year goes to the makers of Pacific Rim, who successfully leveraged the long-tail targeted marketing capabilities of YouTube to quantifiably drum up interest and buzz, and who are now coasting on the buzzwave generated (and a huge Hollywood budget, but that’s another post)!

Does it work? Consider one of the most interesting use cases – yourself, now: if you hadn’t known about these two movies already, you do now. If you knew about them but hadn’t seen them, you’re one step closer to taking some kind of action. And if you’re already in the in-group, you’re smiling and will love to chat with me about them (and I full-heartedly encourage you do to so 😉

How’s THAT for new age marketing?

Happy Opportunities

Wait wait wait… This isn’t that “evil marketing” I hear about, now is it?

Let’s take a second to realign. Do the movie makers want to make money? Well yeah! Any wise business owner wants to generate revenue in some form or another. Even non-profits benefit by generating a larger resource pool from which to reinvest and achieve greater results.

What’s changed then? Why isn’t this “evil”?

Three golden words: Word of Mouth.

The simple act of having a chat and giving a recommendation inspires action far more effectively than any uber-designed animated poster.

It’s just one of those ironies in life, what else can I say?

Well, we could look at some numbers to help show, so let’s do that! On average, people are shown thousands of advertisements a day. How many is pretty hard to quantify, but people have tried. I feel it’s safe to say we easily encouter at minimum 5,000 old and new brands/products/ideas each and every day.

No wonder we’re tired of the old ways of advertising! We need a way to filter the signal from the noise. Trusting our friends and social networks is a fantastic way to start, and that’s where we’re at today.

Socialize Your Life!

I promised to tell you how this has value in your life, so let’s do it!

Of course, that would only work if there was one type of person in the world. Thankfully, we are all unique, and use tools in our own different way, so I can’t give you any solid reasons to believe that engaging in social media is one of the best investments of your time.

I’d love to tell you a story here, but interestingly enough, all of mine are still being written! I encourage you to read the pages that have already been created by perusing any of the social networks I’m on.

I can give you a bit of a teaser though: #LifeChanging.

I’m a big fan of learning by example. I’m rapidly learning I’m not alone in this belief. It’s amazing how many other opportunities are out there from those who believe the same.

I encourage everyone to get out there, put your toe in any social media that’s calling to you. I can’t promise no sharks, but you just might find your very own #SharkNado 😉